Leaders of Israel’s various coalition parties overall responded optimistically to Monday evening’s news that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has decided to dissolve the Knesset and call for new elections. They tended to cite what they believe to be their coalition’s achievements.
They did not, however, acknowledge the polls that show it likely that the Likud Party will win in new elections, sending them back into the opposition.
The news came just a week after Israel’s coalition government celebrated its first anniversary in office, and new elections are expected to be held in October, about 18 months after the previous ones.
Minister of Defense and leader of the Blue and White Party Benny Gantz said that his government had done “much for Israeli society, its security and resilience and will continue to work for it even during the transition period.”
He thanked the Prime Minister who Gantz said, “made significant efforts to lead it,” and wished success to the Foreign Minister Yair Lapid who will soon become the interim Prime Minister.
Of all of the coalition party leaders, Gantz is in the strongest position right now and the most likely to not only continue in his position and get reelected to the Knesset, but also to serve as a minister again in any new government.
The polls show his party doing well in new elections and whoever forms the next government will need his support. So Benny Gantz, for the third time in a row, could play the king maker.
Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz, leader of the progressive Meretz Party which has little to no chance of joining any newly formed government that included the right-wing and/or ultra-orthodox parties, boasted, “This government has succeeded above and beyond. This is a historic government that has saved Israeli democracy.”
“I’m proud of our part in it,” he added. “Its achievements will be remembered for many years to come. Meretz will continue to work for Israeli society, and we will fight in the upcoming elections for our values and our way.”
Minister of Justice and leader of the New Hope Party Gideon Sa’ar had a more negative tone than his fellows.
“As I warned, the irresponsibility of some MKs in the coalition led to the inevitable result,” he tweeted. “The goal in the upcoming elections is clear: to prevent Netanyahu from returning to power and to enslave the state to his personal interests.”
Sa’ar, who left the Likud Party over a dispute with Benjamin Netanyahu and founded the New Hope Party before the last elections, seems to have the most to lose from new elections. Polls show his party failing to pass the threshold for election to the Knesset.
Minister of Transportation and Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli stated, “The Coalition for Change (“Shinui” – the name the coalition calls itself) brought different parts of Israeli society closer together. I am proud that the Labor Party was a partner in its establishment and had a stability faction within it.”
“I thank our partners and partners and I am sure that we will continue to lead the State of Israel back to a safe shore,” she added.
Michaeli, however, did not mention that she is likely to face a challenge for her party’s leadership before new elections are held and may not even serve in the next Knesset.
From the opposition side, Bezalel Smotrich, tweeted, “Am Yisrael Chai! No more division! No more Incitement! Soon with the help of God a true Jewish, Zionist and national unity that will lead Israel.”
Itamar Ben-Gvir, number 2 on the party’s joint Knesset list and leader of its Otzma Yehudit party said, “This is wonderful news for the citizens of the State of Israel. At last this dangerous government is going home, with the help of the name we will soon form a full right-wing government that will restore security to the streets.”